Dwelling wholesome helps forestall dementia, even when it runs by way of the household – Client Well being Information
THURSDAY, May 20, 2021 (HealthDay News) – For people who are concerned about developing dementia based on their family history, a preliminary study offers some good news: Living a healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk.
The researchers found that older adults with healthy habits were at lower risk of dementia than less health-conscious people – even if a parent or sibling had the brain disease.
Lifestyle choices did not remove the effects of genes. In people with a family history of dementia, a good life appeared to reduce the undue risk.
Those who followed at least three out of six healthy habits had an approximately 35% lower risk of dementia than their counterparts with less healthy lifestyles.
These six keys were:
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and limit processed meats and refined grains
- At least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week
- Do not smoke
- Drink in moderation
- Getting six to nine hours of sleep every night
- Avoid obesity.
“Genes aren’t everything,” said researcher Angelique Brellenthin, assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University. “You could reduce your risk of dementia by taking relatively simple steps.”
They’re simple, Brellenthin added, in the sense that people don’t have to run marathons or be model skinny to see benefits.
“For example, you might be getting 5.5 hours of sleep at night,” she said. “You can work your way up to six hours.”
Brellenthin plans to present the results at an online meeting of the American Heart Association on Friday. Studies reported at meetings are generally considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
However, the results complement previous evidence that lifestyle can counteract some of the negative effects genes have on risk of dementia.
A 2019 study of nearly 200,000 British adults looked at whether participants carried gene variants that make people prone to Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. And among those who harbored the genes, healthy habits seemed to lessen their excessive risk of dementia.
For the latest study, the researchers used the same data source – the UK Biobank Study – to include more than 300,000 adults aged 50 to 73 years.
But instead of focusing on genes, they focused on family history. Most people, according to Brellenthin, do not know whether they carry high-risk gene variants.
“But they do know if anyone in their family has dementia,” she said.
In eight years, nearly 1,700 study participants – 0.6% – developed dementia. The risk was 70% higher in people with a parent or sibling who had dementia than in people without affected first-degree relatives.
The healthier people’s lifestyles, the lower the risk of dementia. Across the study group, those who followed all six habits were half the risk of those who followed just one or two habits.
This was true even after the researchers considered things like age, education, income, and whether people had health problems like high blood pressure or diabetes. And the pattern that also prevails in the family history of people with dementia.
In general, researchers believe that a combination of lifestyle habits can support brain health as we age, said Heather Snyder, vice president of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association.
Aside from exercise and eating well, she said, these habits include social interactions and activities that stimulate the mind.
The latest findings don’t prove cause and effect, noted Snyder, who was not involved in the research.
However, she said that the Alzheimer’s Association is funding an ongoing clinical trial testing the power of lifestyle: it asks if a combination of steps – including exercise, mental stimulation, and better control of blood pressure and diabetes – causes the mental decline of the elderly People can slow down adults who are believed to be at increased risk.
Why is lifestyle important? The reasons are likely numerous, said Snyder.
For one, healthy habits help prevent diseases associated with dementia, such as heart disease and diabetes. But they can also have a more direct impact on brain health, Snyder said. For example, exercise can stimulate the release of hormones that “make the brain happy” and chemicals that aid communication and growth of brain cells.
One unanswered question from this study relates to timing: Were these older adults lifelong health enthusiasts or had they just recently adopted some good habits?
However, Snyder said the general opinion was that “it’s never too late” to change your lifestyle for the sake of general health and just to be comfortable.
The Alzheimer’s Association advises on brain-healthy habits.
SOURCES: Angelique Brellenthin, PhD, Assistant Professor, Kinesiology, Iowa State University, Ames; Heather Snyder, PhD, Vice President, Medical and Scientific Relations, Alzheimer’s Association, Chicago; American Heart Association Conference on Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle, and Cardiometabolic Health, online presentation, May 21, 2021